Welcome to The Epic! I am launching this blog as a manifesto for and a guide to living well. The title and motto of the blog are taken from the Epicureans, at least some of whom believed in the notion that not one minute of the future was guaranteed to them and that as a result they had the duty to live life to its fullest every moment.

I believe in discovering fun and pleasurable things wherever I find myself each day and I am told I have a knack for unearthing them. My hope is that by sharing in my pleasures and some of my ways of finding them you will begin to collect all the riches that lie in the moments of your life. They are there. Take them! All our lives should be.....Epic.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Catherine at Sixty-Five

I clearly remember the moment I became Catherine Deneuve aware. Watching Belle de Jour in film school. That face. That dress. That walk. That face. From that time onward, Catherine Deneuve set the standard for sophisticated femininity. Hell, for any sort of femininity. As my wife would say, "If Catherine Deneuve wants your husband there is nothing you OR he can do about it." My favorite Deneuve films are Indochine, My Favorite Season and Color of Night. Actually, I do not really care. I just like to watch her move about. And talk. And breathe.

A brief biography. Born in Paris. Of course. The third of four daughters. Ladies, how would you like to have HER for a little sister? She speaks four languages. Likes doing her own gardening. Her favorite season is summer. She is involved with many international charitable organizations, including UNESCO, Handicap International and Children of Africa. Muse to Yves Saint Laurent. 106 film and television roles. So far. Accessory designer. She has been in some magnificent ad campaigns, including Chanel and this one for Louis Vuitton:

From last year. When she was sixty-four. She reportedly lives in the Place des Voges in Paris:

Which looks just about right. My favorite quote from her is "I allow myself my excesses."

In honor of Miss Deneuve's sixty-fifth birthday today, I set out to determine whether anyone has ever created a cocktail in her honor. There is no such libation listed in any of my many reference works on the subject. In past years I have taken to celebrating Miss Deneuve's birthday with a Kir, which seems very apropos. 1/4 oz Creme de Cassis, 2 1/4oz dry white wine. Or a glass of good Champagne. The only cocktail I have discovered named for Catherine Deneuve is the "Catherine", created by the author of the excellent Cocktailians blog, listed at the right margin. The formula is:

3/4 oz Chambord + 3/4 oz Gin + 3/4 oz Lillet Blanc + 1/4 oz lime juice + 2 dashes peach bitters

Shaken and served up. It looks like this (also from Cocktailians):

Perhaps a bit of lemon peel for garnish only. As delicious as this cocktail sounds, I was thrown by the reference to "peach bitters". As any reader of the Epic will testify, I am pretty well versed in things of this sort. I practice at it a lot. But peach bitters mystified me. A couple of pretty good barmen I know had not heard of it either. So I went to the mountain. To a mixological guru. Greg Best of Atlanta is to my thinking the finest barman in America. He reigned at the bar of Restaurant Eugene for years before opening his own place, the Holeman and Finch Public House at 2277 Peachtree Road. Greg not only took my call about this dilemma but told me that if I wanted good peach bitters I could easily get some....in New York. It is not easy to get even in Atlanta. And I live a long way from Atlanta. In a lot of ways.

Even without peach bitters, an alternative created by the exemplary bar staff of the Hotel Maison Dupuy in New Orleans is the French Kiss:

3/4 oz Chambord + 3/4 oz peach schnapps + 3/4 oz vodka with a splash of orange juice, pineapple juice and cranberry juice.

I have reservations about whether Miss Deneuve would drink anything with schnapps in it, but it is a very good cocktail. While drinking it, you must keep notions of French kissing and Catherine Deneuve from entering your mind at the same time or you will spill the cocktail on your arm. I have. A man who actually had the chance to have drinks with Catherine Deneuve is Alan Riding of the New York Times. Blighter. He reported that she ordered a bourbon sour. Lord, she really IS perfect.

Catherine Deneuve has not performed in many American films. A shame, but probably as it should be. I just can't see her shooting at a mummy or running from a dinosaur. Hearing her in French with subtitles is just the thing. See for yourself:

The essence of Deneuve. Gentlemen, it is all right. You can play the clip over and over. I certainly won't tell anyone.

Asked once about her lack of notice by American studios, she replied to the effect that she would have liked more work in America but that it wasn't her style to sit about and mope about things in the past that did not go her way. Her goal is to live fully in the present moment. An Epic attitude for an Epic lady.

I don't know who coined the phrase "a woman of a certain age" but to me it implies a woman who has lived well. And gained knowledge from the experience. Knowledge of her own femininity and its power. Knowledge of her strengths and weaknesses. Knowledge of who she is. And is not. Knowledge that she has, in the words of another author, "earned the right to be completely herself". To me, there is no better woman than a Woman of a Certain Age. And no better Woman of a Certain Age than Catherine Deneuve.

I will close this birthday tribute with a video clip from last year's Vuitton ad campaign:

Happy Birthday, Miss Deneuve. Tonight I'll have a Catherine cocktail, or a bourbon sour, or both. In your very distinct honor. And may there be many, many more birthdays to come.


Easy and Elegant Life said...

Hoorah! And the Kir made with champagne is the "Kir Royale." Mrs. E.'s house drink. Well worth it and, like Ms. Deneuve, just about perfect.

M.Lane said...

I'll try it! Thanks for the visit and the comment!


Uncle Beefy said...

Well...I am sorry I missed this day with ya', m.lane. I too have been a longtime lover of Catherine. (Okay, and by "lover", I mean one who loves her, not makes love to her!) This was a GREAT post! I couldn't stop thinking about her when I was in Paris last year. She is breathtaking! Cheers! Cheers, indeed!